Sharjah: Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, recently visited the ‘The Big Heart Educational Centre’ in Sharjah.
Sheikha Jawaher, who is Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) and Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), interacted with students at the centre, founded in 2019 to provide access to knowledge and professional empowerment for children and adults who had to leave school and flee their home countries because of conflicts and crises.
She toured the various departments, classes, vocational training centres and other capacity-building facilities at the centre and was briefed on its work in providing educational solutions for children and youth and appraised of the forthcoming plans for developing its curricula and processes.
Sheikha Jawaher met with students at the centre to understand their needs and emphasised the keenness of TBHF in supporting their education and equipping them with personal and professional skills to make them self-sufficient to help overcome the trauma of conflict and forced displacement and facilitate their return to mainstream education.
She said: “The launch of ‘The Big Heart Educational Centre’ reflects the noble values embedded in the culture of the UAE to support those in need, especially to provide them with access to sound education which is a key driver of community development, advancement and stability. This is what we learnt from Sharjah, and this is how we utilise it to serve those in need, at the local or international levels.”
Addressing the students, she added: “TBHF launched this centre to help you make up for disruptions you have experienced in your education in your home countries. We believe that it is never too late to learn, and that education can help lessen the gap and compensate, in part, for what was lost. We have confidence in your ability to excel.
“Shaping your own destinies through education will send a message and highlight to the world what victims can achieve of in the face of hate and conflicts. We will help you fulfil your dreams because Sharjah is a beacon of humanity, knowledge, and culture and because the emirate’s developmental project is founded on the values of respect for human dignity and rights, from wherever they may be.”
Sheikha Jawaher thanked the staff of the educational centre for their efforts in helping the students and thanked the students for their determination to continue their education and advance their capabilities.
Education is a human right
“Education is a fundamental human right and every child has the right to obtain education and knowledge. We – in Sharjah and the UAE – are fully aware of this right and are committed to fulfilling it, even if you have been deprived of your education in your home countries. We also believe that every individual who feels a sense of belonging to the society where he and his family lives, also has a duty to commit to learning and education. I hope that you will all live up to this responsibility.”
She also lauded Al Tunaiji Real Estate for donating the plot for building the centre.
Focus on Arabic
During the visit, Sheikha Jawaher emphasised the importance of teaching Arabic to children in the proper manner as learning the mother tongue is an integral part of the Arabic identity. Knowledge of more languages would further support in securing greater job opportunities and in communicating effectively with communities around the world. However, the first language would always remain the authentic communication tool for any community, she said.
At the end of the visit, she directed TBHF to place additional focus on music and sports at the centre and to follow up on the progress of students in these disciplines.
Sheikha Jawaher was accompanied by Dr Muhadditha Al Hashimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Private Education Authority; Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF; and Noura Al Noman, Director of the Executive Office of Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, during the visit.